Most evenings I take Loki, our dog, for his final walk of the day. He has already had two or three long walks in the park, so this final one is only around a block or two. The streets are calm this time of the evening, the silence broken only by the occasional car and the sounds that find there way out through open windows. The clinking of dishes, coupled with the sound of children laughing, conjures up the image of a family clearing away their dinner. In one window two people smoke, their silhouettes dark against the light in the room.
During our walk Loki spends most of his time with his nose to the ground sniffing the trails and marks left by other dogs. I imagine that these marks act somewhat like graffiti tags for humans. As we walk together, me and my dog experience different realities. While I see a dark street lit by the orange glow of street lights, Loki is in a world of intersecting trails of scent. It is estimated that a dog smells 1000 to 10 000 times better than a human. This moves him into another reality altogether. My imagination cannot take me into his head, and I can only visualise this world of smells as a myriad of differently coloured smoke trails going this way and that, some bright and fresh, some already faded with time. I wonder about the messages left by the neighbourhood dogs, and whether Loki recognizes their signatures. At one point Loki comes accross a fresh puddle on a street corner. He sniffs it and then lifts his head and looks around, as if he expects the author of the puddle to be nearby. But there is nobody to be seen so he returns to deciphering the messages of the street.
As a group of people approach, Loki becomes alert. His ears perk up and move around, locating the origin of the sound. He gives a muffled bark. But it is only a family, with some young children that run across the street with wild abandon. Loki loves running, and seeing the children inspires him. He leaps forward and bounds ahead, until I tug his leash and tell him not to pull. I feel sorry for him. He is also just a child with endless amounts of energy, impatience and enthusiasm. But for some reason people do not react the same when a 30 kilo German Shepherd comes charging towards them as when it is a human child…
By now we have entered our street again, and Loki begins to pull the leash in his enthusiasm to get home. For some reason he is as excited to get back home as he was to leave 10 minutes ago.